If I have a great experience buying something, doesn’t it make sense to write an online review directly with the store? If my local pizzeria makes me an awesome pie, I would naturally go to their Google My Business page to write a review, or rate them on their Facebook page, or dare I say go into the dark depths of their Yelp page and tell the world how awesome they are. I probably wouldn’t go to pizzarater.com to leave an opinion.
Unfortunately we in the auto business have to deal with alternate sites that siphon off our reviews. Cars.com, DealerRater, Carfax, Edmunds, etc… all of these sites need visitor traffic to sell more advertising, so they encourage our customers to leave reviews for us on their platforms. That’s good for them, not so much for us. Things would work much better if the reviews were where we could actually reply to all of them, and where customers had a better chance of seeing them.
Take DealerRater for example – we don’t pay their fee to be a “partner”, so we have no ability to reply to any reviews about us, good or bad (dealers who do pay get to reply, and they also get the opportunity to deal with negative reviews before they go live since DealerRater delays the posting of negative reviews). We also don’t have the ability to make changes to the information they post about us, so the numerous factual errors just sit there out there confusing people. If we don’t pay the fee, they have no incentive to make sure something like our dealership hours of operation are correct.
In the end, all of these secondary sites make it harder for customers to get the cleanest info. Love them or hate them, the entire world searches on Google (the latest stat I viewed was that about 93% of internet searches happen via Google). If everyone left their opinion of us on Google, that would be much better than some reviews on Carfax, and some on DealerRater, and some on Edmunds, etc… There’s too much money to chase in the car business however, so you’ll keep on seeing these minor sites splintering off reviews.